April 2021 Justinian Member of the Month
The Honorable Louis J. Presenza (Ret.)
April 2021 Justinian Member of the Month
LOUIS J. PRESENZA President Judge Emeritus, Philadelphia Municipal Court
Judge Presenza was appointed to the Municipal Court bench is 1982. He was elected to a full term in 1983 and was retained for office in 1989, 1995, 2001 and 2007 with a better than ninety-five percent approval rating from plebiscites conducted by the Philadelphia Bar Association. In 1996 he was appointed the first Supervising Judge of the Court's Criminal Division during which time he played a key role in establishing the first drug treatment court in Pennsylvania. In 1999, his colleagues elected him President Judge and he was unanimously reelected to that position in 2004. Prior to his appointment, Judge Presenza was an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and later was appointed General Counsel to the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Judge Presenza also engaged in the private practice of law
Prior to his retirement, Judge Presenza was a frequent guest speaker at national symposium lecturing on drug court policies and initiatives and served on committees, commissions and boards addressing issues of preliminary arraignment, pretrial release guidelines, prison population management and alternatives to incarceration. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Statewide Adult Drug Court Advisory Committee, the Pennsylvania Statewide Mental Health Initiatives Task Force, the City of Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission and the Mayor's Task Force on Homeless Services. He also served as a faculty member for the National Drug Court Institute and is past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). He was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Association of Drug Court Professionals and served consecutive two-year terms as its inaugural President. He was on the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Metropolitan Courts, Chairman of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Substance Abuse, emeritus member of the Board of Directors of NADCP and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia. He also served as a consultant for the American University Justice Programs Orice School of Public Affairs
Judge Presenza received awards from the Philadelphin Coalition for Victim Advocacy, the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, the Lawyers' Club of Philadelphia, and the Caron Foundation. He was inducted into the NADCP's Stanley M. Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame in recocation of his leadership, service and preeminent contributions to the drug court field and was awarded the Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award by the Philadelphia Bar Association is recognition of having made a significant and positive impact on the quality and administration of justice. Lawdragon Magurine mod him one of "500 Leading Judges in America. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Association of Drug Court Professionals established the Louis J. Presenza Distinguished Service Award to be presented annually to an individual in recognition of their extraordinary leadership and support of those in the problem solving court field in Pennsylvania.
Judge Presenza is a graduate of St. Joseph's University and Villanova University School of Law.
Judge Presenza is married, has three children and 8 granschildren.
Una Piccola Conversazione
1. How long have you been a member of the Justinian Society?
I joined the Justinian Society in 1971.
2. Why did you join the Justinian Society, and what do you hope to gain from membership?
It was the natural thing to do since I knew many of the judges and lawyers who were members. I looked forward to the mentoring and camaraderie that the Society provided.
3. What do you love or enjoy most about your job?
I viewed my time on the Bench as an opportunity to help others solve their problems and to also promote fairness and justice. Our Philadelphia Treatment Court is a prime example.
4. How would you define success?
You must have positive goals in life and take the steps to hopefully achieve them. However, success must be beyond the personal and include making the world a better place.
5. Who or what inspires you?
My faith and my family with special recognition to my parents and my wife. I was also inspired by the hundreds of participants in our Treatment Court who successfully completed a demanding program to overcome their addictions and become an example for others.
6. If you could choose anyone in history as a mentor, who would you choose and why?
Hands down, it would be my father. He was a child of the Depression who had to drop out of high school to help his parents support his seven siblings. He was a man who valued education and the need to help others. He was a man of character and integrity.
7. Name one valuable lesson you’ve learned in your life and that you would advise other members to follow?
Follow your conscience. Always strive to do what is right despite the opposition and pressure on you to do otherwise and seek the strength and counsel to do what is right.
8. What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I am what some would call a diehard baseball fan and because of a very dear friend I was able to have breakfast or dinner with immortals such as Ted Williams, Pee Wee Reese, Luis Aparicio, Bob Feller, Carl Yastrzemski, Duke Snider and other Hall of Famers.
9. What’s the last book you read?
Brothers in Battle....Best of Friends. This is the true story and incredible story of two young men from South Philadelphia that enlisted in the 101" Airborne and fought in the D-Day landing, the Battle of the Bulge and other battles through Belgium and Germany. After the war they continued to live in South Philly and remained lifelong friends. They were immortalized in the HBO Series The Band of Brothers.
10. What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia, i.e., sports team, restaurant, museum, history, music etc.?
Actually, all of the above with particular emphasis on the diversity of our neighborhoods, the plethora of restaurants, the sports teams including the Big 5 and of course our history which is second to none.